Life After College: How To Find Your Balance

By the time you graduate college, you’ve finally figured out how to manage your homework, extracurricular activities, part-time job, internship and social life – and squeeze in those precious hours of sleep! But now you have graduated and landed a post-grad internship or full-time job.  So now what?

It’s like the first day of school all over again. You walk in on your first day of work, not knowing a soul besides the person who interviewed you. Therefore, you tend to be quiet the first day as you soak in every valuable piece of information while trying to prove that you are the right person for the job. By the end of the day, your work still isn’t over. There are plenty more responsibilities that come with post-college life including paying for rent, bills and groceries. And on top of that, you must consider paying for your phone bill, car insurance and maintaining a social life. The list goes on and on.

To achieve a sense of balance in this critical launch-pad phase of your career, take into consideration some of the suggestions and advice that I’ve found helpful in my own post-graduate adjustment:

1.       Be realistic about your income.

Balancing your checkbook is a major responsibility of balancing your life after college. Money will not necessarily make you happy; however, I know we all want to avoid being in debt, so be smart with your first big-kid paycheck.

One of the first pieces of advice I received as a new college grad was from my father, who is a financially savvy banker. He suggested that I make a spreadsheet consisting of all my monthly expenses, and I encourage you to do the same. This practice will help you track how much money you are earning, especially after taxes, and where all of your money is going. Therefore, you can see where you may need to cut back on spending in order to save a few more dollars.

Also, if you know you will be working with your company for more than a year, consider living close to work in order to save on gas. Most apartment complexes have one-year leases, and if you do your research, you can find some manageable deals out there. If it’s possible, consider living with your parents or a roommate while you get your feet wet, but remember not to get too comfortable.

2.       Find other like-minded professionals with whom to connect.

As a new graduate, it can be hard to adjust to being away from the group of friends that was constantly at your side back in college. One way to make new friends and critical networking contacts is to join organizations that connect you with young professionals like yourself.

If you’re a member of PRSA, you’re already ahead of the game. PRSA New Professionals Section is a great way to meet peers and share ideas, experiences and similar life/work situations across the country.

Another opportunity to seize is your local alumni association. Your membership will most likely cost a small fee, so remember to include that fee in your budget and maybe eat out less that week in order to balance the cost.

3.       Get active and involved in your community.

Aside from professional organizations, start connecting with the community in which you live, whether it’s brand new or one where you’ve lived for a while. The chamber of commerce is generally a great place to start. The chamber often has a directory that is open to the public, and the staff can usually point you in the right direction based on your interests.

Get outdoors, get active and exercise! Is there a local gym with great rates you can join? Is there a park through which you can walk or run each morning before starting your workday? Working out in the morning can take some discipline at first, but it will increase your productivity throughout the day (and make you feel less guilty for enjoying your latte from Starbucks!).

4.       Don’t set yourself up for burnout.

You’re ready to prove yourself to the world, but don’t try to accomplish everything at once or you may end up overwhelming yourself. Take on one or two tasks at a time and learn how much you’re comfortable with managing. No one expects you to be running the office immediately. Failures and successes are all a part of the learning process that makes you a better human and a better professional.

5.       Make time for yourself.

Enjoy a drink at happy hour. We all deserve an opportunity to kick back after a long week at work. Plus, it never hurts to get to know your coworkers outside of the office. Above all, take time for yourself. It can be easy to get caught going 100 miles per hour five days a week, especially when public relations isn’t the traditional nine-to-five job. What hobbies and interests gave you joy in school? Find ways to work those hobbies into your weekly schedule. This time doesn’t detract from your professional commitments; rather, it can give you the energy and passion to continue excelling at your work.

Good luck!


Whitney Strittmatter is an office coordinator at the Jason Ridley Agency, Nationwide Insurance. As an office coordinator, she is responsible for organizing and attending local events, engaging the media across multiple social media platforms, developing content and managing the agency’s day-to-day operations. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in  2013 with a degree in public relations. Strittmatter is a proud member of the PRSA Dallas Chapter and can be contacted at or found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

October Twitter Chat Highlights: Content + PR

We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the October #NPPRSA Twitter chat to discuss the convergence of content marketing and public relations.

Specifically, we’d like to thank special guest for the month, PR Daily, one of the industry’s top resources for public relations news, strategy and advice.  Join us in November for a special #NPPRSA chat to kick off National New Professionals Week. Chapters are invited to plan an event for local new pros, submit it to the PRSA New Professionals Week event listing and join in the fun November 11-15.

Review highlights of the chat below.

What did you learn from the October chat? How can content marketing enhance your public relations efforts? What are your favorite content marketing best practices?


Lauren Rosenbaum is the Public Relations Director at BrickPixel, a web design and marketing consultancy. She is the Co-Founder of Soversity, a public relations and digital marketing company. You can connect with her on Google+LinkedIn or Twitter.

The Pros of Working at a Boutique PR Agency

Searching for a job is almost like searching for the perfect college. The environment, the people, the cost (or in this case, the salary) are equally important. Having worked for more than two years at two different boutique agencies, I think, from my perspective, bigger isn’t necessarily better:

You gain visibility with the agency’s senior leaders.

When you work at an agency of fewer than 20 people, you get to have serious face time with your boss. CEOs at global agencies don’t know their account coordinators’ names, and they definitely don’t have lunch with them multiple times a week. Nothing beats having the eyes, ears and insights of the most important people in your company on a daily basis.

You’re allowed direct client interaction early in your career.

The first few years in public relations inevitably include building countless media lists and tracking client placements. Teams are smaller, so each member has a larger level of responsibility, which means you not only get to listen in on status calls to take notes but you get to have a voice on them, too.

You become a jack-of-all-trades. Larger agencies have employees who are each experts in their individual specialty. Media relations, blogger outreach, social media development, new business outreach… the person who has healthcare clients will only continue to have healthcare clients. That doesn’t happen at small firms. Your client roster will be extremely diverse, and you will have a role on multiple accounts, instead of focusing the majority of your time on one or two clients.


You have an opportunity to get noticed – quickly. Is it better to be the big fish in the small pond or the small fish in the big pond? That’s the question you need to ask yourself. The smaller the agency, the easier it will be to prove yourself to the entire team. The more you prove you are an asset to your company, the faster they will trust you with larger opportunities and give you more responsibility. These tasks could be anything from writing client press releases to developing and managing social media content to attending new business pitches. In turn, you realize that…


 …Your job title doesn’t matter. Small agencies are all about “all hands on deck” and assisting in all projects. A success is a true team success because everyone has a role in making it possible. The individualistic mindset doesn’t exist. There is no time for hierarchy or corporate structure. You can easily be doing the work of a senior account executive at a larger agency. In turn, the amount you learn about the industry from more experienced team members in such a short time period is unbelievable and priceless.


You gain many opportunities for growth. Proving yourself, developing your boss’s trust and forming client relationships are all invaluable tools to a young public relations professional. You may not have projects with the biggest of budgets or clients with the most recognizable of names, but you have a chance to have your ideas heard in brainstorms, you get to place stories in the media and you get to implement all of those strategies and tactics you just spent four years learning about in college.


 Your first few years after college are your chance to test out all different types of communications jobs. You may find that agency life isn’t the best fit for your personality and that corporate communications is where you are happiest. Or after some time at a large, global firm you may realize that a boutique agency will give you the mentorship you need and the one-on-one interaction you crave. No matter where you land, don’t discount any opportunity. Good luck!

 Do you work a boutique firm, a large agency or in another setting? What are the pros of your individual workplace?


Ariel Abramowitz is a May 2011 graduate from the Pennsylvania State University College of Communications, where she studied public relations. While an undergraduate student, she was actively involved with the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) and has continued her philanthropic efforts by managing the social media pages for The Stand, New York City’s premiere dance marathon benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network. She currently works for Rose Communications, a boutique agency in Hoboken, New Jersey, where she is a junior account executive. Ariel is self-described social media addict and spends a good portion of her time scrolling through Tweetdeck and blogging about her daily tribulations. Follow her @arielsam924!

5 Transferable PR Skills You (Probably) Already Have

In college, I read a quote that remains with me to this day: “You already have everything you need to get everything you want in life.” This mantra is especially relevant to new PR professionals. Whether you’re new to the workforce in general or facing a career switch, you likely have the foundational skills to become successful in a public relations career. Keep in mind that public relations professionals come from a variety of undergraduate majors and career backgrounds. Broad disciplines like English, marketing, communications and business equip prospective public relations pros with a strong repertoire of transferable skills to earn a place in the field.

The five transferable skills you can leverage to land your first public relations job or continue building your career are as follows:

1. Writing

Versatile writing ability is invaluable as a new pro. Whether you need to craft a press release or pitch your client’s latest and greatest product, writing ranks at the top of public relations must-have aptitudes. If you can write well, you can own the world.

2. Relationship-Building

Success in this industry relies on networking and cultivating long-term relationships with an array of constituencies: members of the media, clients, prospects, colleagues, partner agencies, other internal teams and referral sources. You never know who’s listening, and you never know who can help you find your next lead. If you’re hot on the job search trail, attend PRSA Chapter events to meet and greet local pros. Be authentic. More importantly, be a good listener. When networking, don’t try to get as many business cards as possible. Focus on the quality of interactions rather than the quantity. Do your best to take mental notes about people you meet and jot them down in your phone after you leave the event. If you had one or two meaningful conversations, re-introduce yourself on LinkedIn. Personalize the interaction with a reminder about who you are and where you met. You never know where those connections may lead.

3. News Junkie Status

Attention to current events and news media is imperative in public relations. If you already follow relevant trends and stories in your industry, you’re ahead of the curve. Use your “news junkie status” to demonstrate your knowledge as you build relationships. Keep track of stories that pertain to your job, to the job you want or to your clients. Knowing what’s hot in your industry will help people remember you and even earn you recognition as the in-house current events guru.

4. Sales & Negotiation

You may not realize it, but you use negotiation skills on a daily basis. You bargain or compromise with your partner, roommate, friends and family about where to go to dinner, how to delegate household chores or ways to get what you want. Maybe you worked in customer service at some point. These experiences involve sales and negotiating, which are valuable in any field but especially in public relations. In order to build relationships, win clients and pitch the media, you must sell a brand story. At every turn in public relations, you will negotiate to get what you want. Take advantage of easy opportunities to sell your ideas during your daily routine. Even better, get your hands on The Negotiation Phrasebook by Angelique Pinet to really round out those skills.

5. Project Management

Think back to times when you collaborated on a team project. In order to succeed, you demonstrated follow-through, organization and attention to detail. You balanced several tasks simultaneously and took your project over the finish line by a certain date. In the same way, success in public relations hinges on the ability to create and implement strategy and often, to do so on short notice. Experience collaborating on teams and executing tasks independently will serve you well as a new pro.

What other transferable skills should new PR pros highlight during their job search? If you’re already churning it out in a full-time position, which skills did you use to get a foot in the door?


 Jamie M. Curtis is a writer and publicist. In 2013, she launched WHITE HORIZON PR, a boutique agency focused on public relations and content strategy for emerging brands. Currently, she is building a portfolio of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle clients across the U.S. WHITE HORIZON PR serves many clients virtually and has locations in Beverly Hills, CA and Columbus, OH.

PRSA Workshop Recap: Putting More Power & Precision in Your PR Writing

I recently attended my first in-person PRSA workshop, titled “Putting More Power and Precision in your PR Writing.”

Attending the workshop were about 30 young and mid-career PR professionals with a sprinkling of more experienced pros seeking a refresher on writing basics (and one of the best views in Washington at HagerSharp, just blocks from the White House).

A few common writing challenges emerged from the workshop:

1)     Switching gears among multiple functions: Many of us struggle with creating a distinct tone and style when writing for different document types and audiences (e.g. news releases, social media content, pitches, technical reports, etc.). We also have to work to maintain the right balance of time spent on background research, cultivating leads, engaging with experts on the content we’ll be publicizing and then the actual writing process.

2)     Writing tight copy: We all know that readers prefer crisp copy, but how do we get to concise without erring towards choppy? For creative types, it can be a painful exercise to cut out jargon, flowery language and complex sentence structures – but for the reader’s benefit, it is absolutely essential to distill your communications to their clearest, simplest form.

3)     Letting go of personal preferences and ego when writing for others: Writing feels very personal and it can be tough to accept edits, or worse, to adopt a style that doesn’t feel our own. We need to keep in mind that it’s paramount to capture the voice of the organization or brand we are representing, and we must adapt our personal style accordingly.

4)     Working under external constraints: Many of us feel challenged to produce quality PR products when faced with limited control over corporate fonts, formats and colors, let alone the inclusion of dry legalese or too-long boiler plate language. Likewise, it’s tough to do our best writing in a workplace that doesn’t place a premium on quiet time and privacy for creative effort, time at the end of production to proof, or flexibility to write at the best time of day for you. Where possible, take the initiative to talk to your manager about creating the best possible environment that will ultimately result in optimal PR writing for the organization.

The highlight of the workshop came from the packet of 30 real-world writing samples provided, as each participant was asked to share a work product with the group. It is impossible to underestimate how much you can learn from having your PR work critiqued by a group of peers and likewise from participating in critiquing their own work.

The biggest value for my money came from the contacts I made who are doing similar work at related organizations. Though we didn’t resolve all of these challenges, knowing that I have a new peer group that shares my day-to-day reality gives me more confidence and determination to continue perfecting my writing.

Anne Berlin does advocacy communications and research and science policy blogging for the Association of American Medical Colleges. She is a member of the PRSA National Capital Chapter and an aspiring Toastmaster.